Dr. Brené Brown has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy—emotions we all experience, for better or for worse. According to her 10-year-long study on leadership, courage is not only teachable, but is actually a collection of four skill sets: rumbling with vulnerability, living into our values, braving trust, and learning to reset after setbacks, failures and disappointments.
Dr. Brown has been sharing her findings through books like The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Braving the Wilderness, and Dare to Lead; TED Talks including top-rated “The Power of Vulnerability”; podcasts like Unlocking Us; and a Netflix special called The Call to Courage. Now, she’s bringing her knowledge and curiosity to Spotify in a new multiyear partnership with Spotify and Parcast featuring exclusive content. Soon you’ll be able to find her existing podcast, Unlocking Us, exclusively on Spotify and be able to stream new content like Brown’s Dare to Lead podcast.
We chatted with Dr. Brown about storytelling, her new Spotify exclusive podcasts, and her dream guests.
In the beginning of your viral 2010 TED Talk, you make the link between being a researcher and a storyteller. How has your thought process about the two identities changed over time?
Stories are data with a soul. We are a social species and since the beginning of human history, we’ve used stories to communicate, connect, and teach. Today, as I dig deeper into two new research areas—leadership and self-awareness—storytelling continues to emerge as central to my work. Both research and storytelling are tools for understanding more about ourselves, each other, and the world. I can’t imagine one without the other.
What have you learned in the process of creating your current podcast, Unlocking Us with Brené Brown?
I learn something from every single podcast conversation. Almost everything I’ve learned has either changed something about how I show up as a partner, parent, and leader; changed how I think about myself and the world; or, at the very least, forced me to examine my choices and opinions. Hosting a podcast is the best job ever.
How are researching, writing, and recording a podcast different from doing so for a book?
As someone who is insatiably curious, being a researcher, writer, and podcaster are three of the most fun and rewarding jobs I can imagine. I write books to communicate findings to research questions. Researching and recording solo episodes when I take on a topic from my research feels a lot like the process of writing a book about research findings. However, when I prepare for a conversation with a podcast guest, I have no answers, just questions. And the On My Mind episodes are more of a personal exploration about what has me curious at the moment.
Dare to Lead will be your first Spotify Exclusive Original podcast. What topics, concepts, and guests can fans look forward to?
The Dare to Lead podcast will be a mix of solo episodes and conversations with change catalysts, culture shifters, and as many troublemakers as possible. Innovating, creating, and building a better, more just world requires daring leadership in every part of our daily lives—from work to home to community. Together, we’ll have conversations that help us show up, step up, and dare to lead.
Why did you decide to bring your podcasts to Spotify?
I wanted a home for both podcasts, and I wanted it to be a place that felt collaborative, creative, adventurous, and full of music—like my actual house, where you’d find guitar stands in every room and framed pictures of everyone from Willie Nelson and Aretha Franklin to Freddy Fender, Mick Jagger, and Angus Young hanging on my walls. It was also very important to me to build a podcast home where people could continue to listen for free.
What other features can fans find from you on Spotify? How do these accompany the podcasts?
In addition to the podcasts, you’ll find full playlists from me and mini mixtapes from my guests. Music has the power to connect us and remind us of the one thing that truly matters when we are searching for comfort, celebration, inspiration, or healing: We are not alone. There’s going to be so much music! Starting with my takeover of Spotify’s Yacht Rock playlist (which was much more challenging to put together than I thought. Ironically, this turns out to be a very controversial genre full of not-so-chill debates).
Who is someone from all of history you wish you could interview on your podcast?
Barbara Jordan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Ann Richards, Joan of Arc—I could go on forever. But, if I only had one time-travel pass, I’d use it to play cards and drink sweet tea with my grandmother, Ellen. While listening to Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson.